A’s survive Gerrit Cole, but get done in by seventh inning miscues in 8-4 loss to Astros

Photo credit: @astros

By Morris Phillips

Make no mistake, there simply isn’t room for mistakes when facing the World Champion Astros.

The A’s got an idea of what it will take to compete against arguably the best team in the majors over the weekend, and errors aren’t a part of the winning equation. In a tie game in the seventh inning on Sunday, and with a chance to capture the three-game series, the A’s started booting the ball around.

A leadoff walk, followed by three Oakland errors propelled Houston’s three-run rally, in their 8-4 win over the A’s that gave them the initial series of the season between the AL West foes. Afterwards, the A’s had no one to blame but themselves.

“Defensively, we just gave it up,” Jonathan Lucroy admitted. “We gave them too many free bags, and you give guys free bags, you’re going to get hurt, especially against a team like that. We got to be better on the defensive side.”

Until the pivotal frame, the A’s seemed to have a grasp on the monumental task at hand. Tied 3-3 after 6 1/2 innings, the A’s had given as good as they got, and were in position to capture the game, and the series. That despite getting shutout 11-0 on Saturday, and suffering through the entirety of Gerrit Cole’s 12-strikeout performance.

By striking out 12 A’s, Cole set an Astros franchise record for strikeouts in the month of April with 61. That number allowed Cole–the Astros’ key off-season trade acquisition from the Pirates–to join and surpass Randy Johnson, Mike Scott and J.R. Richard, as good a trio of strikeout pitchers to come out of any MLB organization.

But in and around all the strikeouts, the A’s scratched together single runs in the third, sixth and seventh to tie.  The A’s were in position to steal one, only to rob themselves.

The A’s get a much-needed day off Monday before heading to Safeco Field, where they’ll open a three-game series against the Mariners Tuesday at 7:10 pm PT.

What just happened? Astros blowout the A’s on Saturday night 11-0

Astros celebrate Photo: @astros

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The Oakland Athletics ran headlong into reality at 100 mph as the World Champion Houston Astros reminded the “Green and Gold” who they were playing as they were humbled on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park. The Astros shutout the Athletics 11-0 before a delighted sellout crowd who came to see their champs crush the young upstarts.

Lance McCullers Jr. dominated the A’s. In fact, he held them hitless through the first five innings. Mark Canha broke up the potential no-hitter in the top of the sixth inning when he hit a single to center. Stephen Piscotty then singled to right moving Canha up to second and A’s fans began to have hope that their team had solved McCullers’ pitches and were about to break open the game. Bruce Maxwell promptly hit into a double play and Matt Joyce flied out to left field to end the inning. That would prove to be the only two hits that McCullers would allow in his 7.0-innings of work.

The A’s would have only two additional baserunners in the contest as they managed to get a base hit and a base-on-balls off Astros reliever Hector Rondon in the eighth inning. Tony Sipp came in to mop it up for Houston in the top of the ninth to preserve the win.

Oakland used six pitchers who gave up 11 runs (10 earned) off 13 hits which included four home runs. A’s pitchers walked six Astros and struck out six.

On the Hill

This game was really all about pitching. For Houston, it was about pitching to perfection. For Oakland, it was about pitching breakdowns.


Lance McCullers Jr. was in command on the mound Photo: @astros
  • Lance McCullers Jr.: he picks up his third win of the season to raise his record to 3-1 in five starts. He pitched 7.0-innings giving up no runs off just two hits. He walked none and struck out seven A’s batters. He threw 100 pitches (65 strikes).
  • Hector Rondon: he had the rockiest inning of the night for the Astros giving up a hit and a base-on-balls in his 1.0-inning on the bump. He threw 21 pitches (11 strikes).
  • Tony Sipp was brought in to work the top of the ninth and he did his job very well. Sipp gave up no runs, no hits, allowed no baserunners and struck out one.


  • Daniel Mengden: Mengden would not want to use this as an excuse but he did bury his grandfather in Austin on Friday. He worked just 2.1-innings giving up five runs (4 earned) off six hits. He walked one and struck out one. Mengden was not sharp on Saturday and took the loss as his record drops to 2-3 on the young season.
  • The A’s used five relief pitchers in the contest.
  • Oakland has to be concerned about the performance of Wilmer Font who they just picked up from the Dodgers. Oakland hoped that Font would be able to work long relief and possibly spot start. On Saturday night, he gave up three runs (all earned) off three hits which were all home runs. That is not the way any pitcher wants to start out with a new team. It may be time to go back to the drawing board on that decision.

At the Plate


  • Jose Altuve: “The little big man” showed why is worth the “big bucks” by going 4-for-5 in the game scoring two runs and picking up two RBI. He hit his second home run of the year off Font and picked up his fifth double the season off Mengden. The man is a monster.
  • Alex Bregman had a big game for the ‘Stros. He went 2-for-3 at bat picking up two RBI. He also walked twice. Bregman now has 12 RBI for the young season.
  • George Springer hit his fifth HR of the season. He upped his RBI total to 17.


  • They had three hits: Chapman, Canha, and Piscotty. All singles.

Up Next

Because the A’s had the big win on Friday night, Sunday becomes “the rubber game” of the match. Yes, the Athletics have the opportunity to win the series on the road in Houston if they can beat the Astros on Sunday afternoon.

Houston is going to send RHP Gerrit Cole to the hill on Sunday. Cole is 2-1 on the year in five starts. He has struck out 49 batters and walked just eight. Cole has allowed just three home runs. He has a WHIP of 0.77.

The A’s will counter with Trevor Cahill who is 1-0 on the season in two starts. He has an ERA of 2.25 in 12 innings pitched. Cahill has struck out 14 hitters and walked just four. He has a WHIP of 1.08.

This game has the potential of being a real pitchers duel. Game time 11:10 PDT.

A’s ready for season opener, but the roster remains a work in progress


By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–At least to start the 2018 season, Andrew Triggs is up and in the starting rotation, and Trevor Cahill is headed out.

Given all the upheaval on the A’s roster, things could change quickly. For wackiness sake, Harvey the Rabbitt could supplant Stomper as the team’s most valuable mascot. Given that, don’t write Triggs and Cahill’s name in ink.

Triggs came to spring training with hopes to land a starting assignment, but did so only because top-prospect A.J. Puk, Jharel Cotton and Paul Blackburn have landed on the disabled list. Puk and Cotton aren’t likey to return this season, and Blackburn is at least a couple of weeks away while his strained forearm recovers.

For manager Bob Melvin, the injuries mean other options have to be handy. Former A’s Cahill and Brett Anderson are part of that mix, a pair of familiar faces originally signed for a look-see.

Cahill pitched three scoreless innings on Tuesday in the team’s exhibition season finale, striking out four. Melvin said stretching out Cahill in an effort to prepare him to start at some point is the goal. Anderson’s path is murkier. He’s still in Arizona working out, and hasn’t thrown in any games, but along with Cahill, the pair provide intriguing options given the fragile nature of the rotation.

“At this point, he looks to be the depth,” Melvin said of Cahill. “It’s one of the reasons we signed him is the injuries we’ve had. He looked good.”

For example, Triggs, currently the fourth option in the rotation, hasn’t blown anyone’s socks off: he started Tuesday and threw three plus innings, allowing all three runs in the A’s 3-0 loss. For the spring, Triggs was 2-2 with a 4.81 ERA over 24 innings.

Melvin was tight-lipped about the club’s outfield situation with Boog Powell and Dustin Fowler bidding to start, and Mark Canha batlling for a roster spot. He said an announcement regarding the entire 25-man roster would come Tuesday.

The A’s open at home on Thursday against the Angels at 1:05 p.m.

Beane Named Baseball Executive of the Year


Photo credit: oaklandathletics.com

By Charlie O. Mallonee

Oakland Athletics vice president and general manager Billy Beane has been named MLB Executive of the Year for 2013 by Baseball America. He won the Baseball America award in 2002 as well.

Beane engineered a major overhaul of the A’s roster after a 74-88 season in 2011.He traded away three All-Star pitchers (Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill and Andrew Bailey) to stock his club with young talent who have played major roles in the club’s return to prominence.

Beane also made a major trade in 2013 with the Houston Astros that brought Jed Lowrie to Oakland in exchange for Chris Carter and Max Stassi. The veteran shortstop had a major impact on the A’s batting .290 with 175 hits, 45 doubles and 15 home runs. That acquisition helped the A’s finish with a 96-66 record and to win the Western Division Pennant.

Beane has been deemed the master of working a small payroll, incorporating Sabremetrics to select players and building strong clubs without utilizing long-term contracts. The Tampa Bay Rays are just one team that has emulated Beane’s philosophy to build a successful ball club.

Beane has been busy already this winter making three trades to shore up the relief pitching and adding a productive reserve outfielder.